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Home » College Affordability and Preparedness » Understanding the Benefits of Paying Your Tuition by Credit or Debit

Paying tuition? It used to be you had to pay for college with a bank check or a personal check, but that’s changed.

Nowadays, it’s easier than ever to make tuition payments using your credit and debit cards.

“It’s all about student experience,” says Karen Reid, the lead on Government and Education Acceptance for Visa. “Paying with a card gives you lots of benefits: you have to consider the potential rewards, if your card offers rewards, the convenience you have of using a card, and the ability to track, plan and control those payments.”

How students benefit

Many students don’t even have a checkbook so the idea of writing a check isn’t even a thought. But millennials do have credit and debit cards, which are practical and convenient to use for paying for everything from groceries to dinner and now, tuition.

“It’s so much more common today,” says Steve Kramer, vice president of payment product management at ACI Worldwide, a company that powers electronic payments. He says these days, students like to pay their expenses by debit and credit, including paying tuition by card.

Paying by card is a flexible option. Students or their parents can make their card payments on their own schedule. Many banks, associated with debit or credit cards, allow you to create automated recurring payments based on your tuition payment cycle — ensuring that you never miss a deadline.

Kramer says on average there are six tuition payments a year, so streamlining payments can be a definite advantage and relief for many students and parents.

Plus, by using a card, they’ll have regular card statements, allowing them to track payment history.

Schools win too

Over 90 percent of colleges and universities accept Visa for tuition payments. More schools are happy to accept credit and debit cards, especially because it significantly impacts their ability to get paid on time. However, as only certain institutions currently accept Visa for tuition payments, check with your own school about their payment card acceptance.

“It’s less to track and improves collections,” says Reid. “A lot of the time, the delinquencies they’ll get from students are not actually delinquencies,” says Kramer, noting it’s often just students forgetting to make the payment.

For example, one college in Pennsylvania implemented automatic payment plans and their delinquencies dropped from 5 percent to 2 percent in one year.”

Mitigating security risk

If someone uses a check, payment can get lost in the mail or stolen. By using a payment card like Visa, they’re protected by Visa’s Zero Liability policy. *

Colleges and universities choose a third party service provider to handle the transactions, that way they’re not directly holding the card number and they know the transaction is safe.

“When parents and students are making payments, they see the lock on the screen, they know it’s secure, they know it’s encrypted,” says Kramer.

Breaking down fees

The tuition transactions have fees — the service providers charge cardholders a substantial fee for use of payment cards, which will vary based upon the tuition amount due and the service provider. Some schools absorb the fees, but most require the cardholder pay the fees.

“Some schools do charge you for using your credit or debit card,” says Reid, who explains rates range from 1 percent to 3 percent of your total bill.

*Visa’s Zero Liability policy does not apply to certain commercial card and anonymous prepaid card transactions or transactions not processed by Visa. Cardholders must use care in protecting their card and notify their issuing financial institution immediately of any unauthorized use. Contact your issuer for more detail.

Kristen Castillo, [email protected]

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